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WME’s Graham Taylor’s Prescription For The Evolution Of Indie Film

WME's Graham Taylor's Prescription For The Evolution Of Indie Film

Thank you Graham for an inspiring keynote speech at the LAIFF yesterday. Very tweet-worthy. And a welcome reminder of what matters and how to keep going. With flair and style no less. Wish I could’ve been there. You definitely made a list for folks to put up on their wall by their desk (reproduced below for easy clipping).

Graham Taylor’s Brief To-Do list To Improve Indie Film Ecosystem:
• We have to encourage young people.
• We can’t be an agist business where we cast off older filmmakers.
• It’s important to have a strong point of view.
• It’s easy to be the person who points out how nothing will ever work. It’s much harder to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself when things do blow up. We never got anywhere in life by playing it safe.
• You should take the time to tweet and blog. And for those of you who comment on Deadline, if you have something positive to say, something that offers real reflection and insight, even critical thought then we should throw you a float parade. But for all of those people who are just spreading hate, you should enjoy a large glass of go fuck yourself.
• It doesn’t hurt to have a sense of humor.
• Don’t stand for apathy and cynicism in either the creative or business communities as it is ultimately cancerous to the evolution of art.

In closing: I’m not an optimist because I’m a lunatic. It’s a learned optimism, one that’s founded upon years of experience, tenacity, and perseverance in this business. We have to be educated on the issues and challenges that face us. I have not gone into the economic issues today as they are well-documented and we are bombarded with them every day. BORING!

What’s not boring is making shit happen. We are the inmates taking over the asylum. We Build, Enable and Activate content, financing and distribution. We are in a revolution and now is our time. We finally have a bigger seat at the table.

Read Graham’s entire speech here (complete with music cues).

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Jason @ FilmmakingStuff

I think the future is internet marketing and one’s ability to build a strong audience over time, of people who know you and know your work.

Technology is also changing independent moviemaking. For two-thousand dollars, every filmmaker can now grab a camera, shoot a feature and compete for virtual “shelf space” in iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and most of the many VOD outlets.

In the context of business 101, this means that our high quality, expensive goods (our movies) are now competing with cheaply produced goods of a somewhat comparable quality. And if we were in the widget business, this would mean massive layoffs are in the near future. Or to put it another way, our old way of making movies no longer fits the marketplace.

And if we assume all traditional distribution will eventually be replaced by some form of VOD, then as a filmmaker, business success really comes down to three economically focused questions:

1. Who is your movie’s target audience?

2. How will you reach your target audience?

3. And how many unit sales does will take to recoup the initial investment?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you know from day one that your odds of success are dramatically decreased. Without a defined market or an established sales channel, it is difficult to justify financing, which makes it very difficult to pay cast and crew, which makes it difficult to produce a movie.

Assuming you can answer these questions, the problem is still economy of scale. If you can’t reach the masses (or reach enough people willing to pay for what you’re selling), how will you ever recoup your initial movie investment? And if you can’t figure out how you’re going to recoup your budget and make a profit, two things have to change:

1. Filmmakers will need to make smaller movies.
2. Filmmakers will need to pay cast and crew less money.

At first thought, neither of these options seems to make independent movie making profitable (or fun) – which is why people keep creating solutions without first scrutinizing the traditional filmmaking paradigm.

Or in otherwords, filmmaking has become the next small business.

Jason Brubaker

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